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Father Solstice: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

Father Solstice: A Legends of Lasniniar Short

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A Solstice tradition in the making. Barlo and Iarion return to the human city of Nal Huraseadro for the holiday.

This time, Barlo’s nagging guesses about his Solstice gift must wait. Both he and his elf friend plan to find something under ten silvers within the city itself as a challenge.

They arrive to find things changed since their last visit. But some things stay the same. Nothing can stop the pair of friends from finding trouble.

...Even on Solstice Eve.

A fun, holiday short novel from the Legends of Lasniniar fantasy series and a follow-up to “A Solstice Tale.” (Previously published as Legends of Lasniniar: Father Solstice. This adventure takes place between the prologue and first chapter of the World of Lasniniar novel Storm Rider.)

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“So our budget is ten silvers, agreed?” Barlo asked, looking up at the elf who walked on the Great North Road beside him.

“Agreed,” Iarion said with a nod. His long, white braids swished around his shoulders.

“And we have to produce our gifts by sundown Solstice Day,” Barlo added.

And there will be no guessing or searching each other’s belongings,” Iarion said. He gave Barlo a pointed look with his golden-flecked sapphire eyes.

Barlo mimed an injured expression, clutching at his graying brown beard, which trailed down his chest. “I’m hurt you feel you even have to mention that. As if I would stoop to rifling through your things...”

Iarion raised an eyebrow. “So who was it I found snooping through my blankets and bedroll last year? Your twin?”

Barlo rolled his eyes. “We were in Dwarvenhome. It’s not as if I’m the only dwarf who lives there. Then again, I suppose all dwarves must look alike to a suspicious elf.” He gave a sniff of disdain.

Iarion shook his head and laughed. “Barlo, I saw you! I was looking right at you as you tried to sneak away.”

“How could you possibly have seen me? It was pitch black in that room!” Barlo clapped his hands over his mouth as he realized his mistake.

Aha! You thought because I had gone to bed, it was safe to have a look through my traveling gear.”

“I may have forgotten your cursedly sharp elven hearing and sight, yes. Anyway, you know I didn’t find anything.” Barlo grumbled. “You must have been hiding my present under your pillow. Either that, or it was in your bedclothes...”

“I don’t think you’re in a position to judge me for being cautious,” Iarion said, avoiding the implied question altogether.

“Were you really looking right at me as I was sneaking out?” Barlo shook his head. “I knew I should have waited until you were taking a bath.”

“So you agree you won’t try to find out what your gift is this year ahead of time,” Iarion said in a firm voice. “You might as well give it up as a lost cause. You’ve never managed to succeed.”

“I’ve come close!” Barlo said, thrusting out his bearded chin.

Iarion smirked. “Only because I let you.”

Barlo scowled and started to mutter under his breath. “Cocky, insufferable, conniving elf...” He trailed off into Dwarvish.

“So no searching, agreed?” Iarion pressed.

Barlo cut off his stream of muttered curses and looked up at Iarion with wide, brown eyes and an innocent expression that was completely unconvincing. “No searching.”

Iarion sighed at rolled his eyes heavenward, but left the matter alone.

“At least we’ve had a patch of dry weather for the past few hours,” Barlo said in an effort to change the subject. “That freezing rain was getting pretty tiresome. We should have reached Nal Huraseadro at least two days ago.”

Even though they were both dry, the dirt road beneath their boots still squelched with cold mud. Sinstari avoided it altogether by sticking to the grass of the Upper Daran Nunadan that surrounded them, moving silently on large paws as only a wildcat could. He ghosted along beside them like a large, charcoal shadow. Despite the lateness of the season, there was no sign of snow.

“Do you think we’ll have a green Solstice?” Barlo asked. “That’s rare up here in the north, isn’t it?”

Iarion gave the air a sniff. “I wouldn’t count on it. The air smells like snow.” He glanced over his shoulder toward the northwest. “And I don’t like the look of those clouds.”

Barlo followed his gaze. A mass of clouds hovered low in the sky, drifting outward from the snowcapped peaks of the Mountains of Wind in the far distance.

“We’d better stick to our plan then and hole up in Nal Huraseadro.” Barlo shivered. “I don’t want to be caught out in the open if a storm is on the way.”

By unspoken agreement, both he and Iarion increased their pace. Sinstari lengthened his strides to keep up. The weak, winter sun was already making its journey across the western sky, and would soon disappear behind the clouds. Barlo and Iarion were on their way back from Dwarfwatch—the dwarven city that was in the very mountains that seemed to be breeding the coming storm. As Chief of Clans for Dwarvenhome, Barlo made an official visit Dwarfwatch and Dwarfhaven once every three years to exchange news and renew ties. The Chiefs of Clans of the other two cities took turns in the years between.

“I can’t believe we’re going to be in Nal Huraseadro for Solstice again,” Barlo said between breaths as he took two strides to keep up with every one of Iarion’s. “How long has it been?”

“Six years,” Iarion said. “We set out early last time you were on tour and spent Solstice at Belierumar with Silvaranwyn and Golaron.”

“Six years. That’s right. Ah, that was a proper adventure.” Barlo smiled as he remembered. “I wonder if anyone will recognize us?”

“Probably not without those ridiculous outfits my mother made us,” Iarion said in a dry voice.

Barlo shuddered. The fur-trimmed outfits with matching stocking hats were the product of Eransinta’s vivid imagination. She had known her son and Barlo were going to be out in the winter weather, and she had never set foot outside the temperate boughs of Melaquenya.

“Too bad we left them at home,” Barlo said without a trace of remorse. “Still, we should stand out as a dwarf and elf in a human city. They must have stories about how we averted that war and returned all the stolen gifts. Maybe there’s even a statue of us or something.”

“We never told anyone about preventing the war, remember? We did it in secret. The city guards called it a Solstice miracle.”

“Huh. That might have been shortsighted of us.” Barlo brightened. “But there’s no way those children could forget how we brought back their gifts.”

“I guess we’ll find out,” Iarion said as they approached the gates of Nal Huraseadro.

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